How Seasonal Changes Can Affect Your Body’s Metabolism
Ever wondered how cyclic changes impact our metabolism? Or maybe how they can lead to the development of diabetes?
We can look into the animal kingdom and see how animals deal with seasonal changes. For example, how do mammals survive when faced with food scarcity? How is the glucose supply to the brain controlled during that time?
Insulin Resistance in the Winter
Similar to other animals, the human body naturally transforms to undergo an insulin-resistant state. This aids our system to be more fuel-efficient and optimally perform for extended periods of time with a small amount of food. This is a natural occurrence during seasonal changes in all vertebrates. This survival mechanism has been going on for almost 400 million years of evolution. It’s clear how important it is to regulate our metabolism.
When seasons change, our brain sends signals to our body to increase its insulin resistance. Our liver can boost fat production, and our adipose and non-adipose tissues can store fat to prepare for winter.
Our central nervous system is in control of our peripheral fuel metabolism functions like: liver glucose, lipid metabolism, adipose metabolism, muscle physiology, pancreatic insulin, glucagon secretion as well as our cardiovascular biology.
Our liver is required to boost glucose production to be able to send blood glucose to the brain. The brain also maintains the status of peripheral tissues that can decrease glucose usage and raise fat levels.
Hibernation Mode: Switching On and Off
The command-and-control area of the brain is located deep in the spot between our eyebrows, close to the hypothalamus. This low brain area, which maintains the hypothalamic dopamine activity, is vital for maintaining the insulin-resistance state.
It may sound weird, but a decreased level of dopamine activity has also been discovered to be associated with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
For certain people, this annual cycle of insulin resistance turns back to an insulin-sensitive state usually during late winter and early spring to prepare for the summer season and the abundance of food.
For others the circadian dopamine input to the brain, especially ones with the biological pacemaker called SCN, is absent. In such cases, some suffer difficulties with the key regulator of this annual cycle of peripheral glucose and lipid metabolism and stay in hibernation mode all year round.
Notice the Changes in Your Body
If you suffer from diabetes and manage it with insulin as your main treatment plan, you might have felt the impact of these cyclical changes. For example, have you ever felt that your blood sugar levels are suddenly higher regularly in early fall? In early spring, have you felt that you began more hypoglycemic (lower than regular blood sugar levels) despite maintaining a standard intake of insulin, food and physical activity? This could be linked to your unique metabolic cycle.
Best Advice to Face Seasonal Changes
Pay attention to what you eat and stay active as much as possible.
If you have diabetes, avoid weight gain during the holidays and maintain and control blood sugar levels by controlling diet and exercise.
Read more about how impactful seasonal changes are on the digestive system.